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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

On Magic - Gennady Shpalikov's letter to Vigo

A year ago I published a post entitled Gennadi Shpalikov- The Soviet Vigo?. I wrote "it is, perhaps, not too great an exaggeration to call him a kind of Russian Vigo ".
More recently I discovered a text in Shpalikov's volume of writings which includes his scripts, his letters, his poetry, stories and just one off diary pieces. One of these is written as though addressed to Vigo. In this piece (a kind of stream of consciousness piece with only dashes and no full stops) Shpalikov explains his debt to Vigo and poignantly speaks about Vigo's early death (a fate that Shpalikov would, unfortunately, share). This is one of the many small pieces from Shpalikov's writings - writings including some still unaccountably unadapted scenarios. All in all after reading Shpalikov one can only state, that like with Vigo, what a tragedy it was for cinema that his life was cut so short. Here, then is the text - it is, of course, impossible to imitate his style - but hopefully something will come across of the kind of figure that Vigo was for Shpalikov and the reverence that he had for Vigo (and that any contemporary filmmaker should have for the figure of Shpalikov). 

This is dedicated to the memory of Vigo, my teacher in film, and yes even in life, even though I can not imagine him alive.

Once some time ago, it was a very long time ago, when I had just started in film - and not even very much aware of the masters of film, since I was basically drinking in the morning, and falling in love with every girl I met- even those who thwarted my every advance - but - what can be done? - what? - if it's like that - and it was at that time when in someone's conversation I heard - about Atalante, I was afraid to watch it - for a long time I was afraid, because at that point I was writing things in the same vein- maybe worse, maybe better - that's not important - no - it's not important - I wept - later on, at that great picture- yes, and not even because of the film - but because you, Vigo, died so young - and no one made such films anymore, and I - in your memory- shot a long crazy final scene to my first film- in your memory,Vigo, in your memory, Vigo and once again in your memory - it's terrifying me that we are the same age now- yes - and we need each others friendship- but what could I do? - I could only shoot a long - crazily long shots- of a barge crossing the water, water, a girl with a harmonica - what more could I do? - this was my declaration of love to you, Vigo, - where are you now, Vigo? - where are you? - dear Vigo- where are you,Vigo? - I know where you are - but because I know - what anguish I feel!

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